The Mexican Free – Tailed Bat
Christopher Abatangelo also enjoyed hunting in Texas as a boy, and the white-tailed deer population in Hill Country is the largest in Texas, with one deer for every 3 acres. If not deer, perhaps he and his father hunted the Rio Grande turkey, when in season.
In Austin, Christopher Abatangelo gathered with other Austinites and tourists to watch the exodus of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats each sunset of summer, from their roosts under the Ann W. Richards Bridge in search of the evening’s meal of insects. The Mexican free-tailed bat is a unique specimen, and its habits continue to be extensively researched. The bat colony under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is a nursery colony, and some years can approach a million mother bats and pups. Male colonies are much smaller, generally, but can reach 10,000 or more. The mothers prefer roosts at 5000 feet or less, while the males will establish roosts at much higher altitudes. The annual migration arrival in south central Texas, to a primary nursing colony in Bracken Cave, Frio cave, and other birth places like the Richards Bridge, begins around February, while the leavetaking in the fall coincides with the first serious cold air event. Generally, the bats leave in large groups, but not all at once, and some bats will stay behind, why is not known. Overwintering in the north is an iffy proposition, with some bats dying and falling from their perches on cave and bridge walls.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department works to ensure that Austinites and visitors alike, and Christopher Abatangelo when he returns home to his roots, will always be able to enjoy the unique delights of Austin and its environs.